Passengers is a film that I have a lot of history with personally speaking. The original script for Passengers was written by Jon Spaihts way back in 2007, and had been in development hell for years now. I mention this because not only have my own projects been in development hell, but this very script was my first read in a screenwriting class I took at Cleveland State University way back when. I remember this time period too because at one point the film was set to star Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt. God this movie would have been fantastic with Emily as the leading female. Eventually in 2014 it it was announced that Sony had won the auction for the rights to the sci-fi flick and here we are. It’s 2017 and Passengers came out theatrically last year, but more importantly it’s finally here in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray!
Passengers ended up under the direction, love and care of Morten Tyldum. Instead of Keanu and Emily the film stars Jennifer Lawrence, and Chris Pratt in the leading roles. Supporting actors include Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne and Andy García. Passengers received a lot of negative reviews and comments about its morality, but despite all of the naysayers it still went on to make back double its $110 million dollar budget. Win! So what’s it all about? I mean its billed as an adventure film, right? Well, sort of. Here’s what all goes down in the flick.
FYI…Unlike all my other coverage you’re unfortunately going to have to deal with some SPOILERS in this review. So just in case you need to look the other way and skip down to the audio and video sections now’s your chance. There’s absolutely no way I can talk about, address and tackle the moral problems I want to here without going into the forsaken spoiler territory. So I’m sadly going to have to break my own cardinal rule just this once. I’m very sorry.
The sci-fi movie centers around two people, mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Pratt) and writer Aurora Lane (Lawrence), who wake up 90 years too soon from an induced hibernation onboard a spaceship headed for a new planet. Think colonization here folks. They are “passengers” onboard the starship vessel Avalon and are venturing towards the planet dubbed Homestead II. The journey all in all takes roughly 120 years to complete. So I’m sure it goes without saying you can see the conundrum our duo are in after waking up with only 30 years under their belt. Also, there’s sadly no way they can go back to sleep either. Despite Jim’s mechanical skills he’s able to engineer a way. So what’s a young attractive couple supposed to do to pass the time? Oh okay go ahead and play that wah wah pedal infused porn riff now. Ha ha. There’s obviously some of that too in order to pass the time.
I should back up for a second here and say they are not truly alone here. There’s an android bartender named Arthur (Sheen) the duo can shoot the sh1t with and pass the time whenever they want. Now here’s the conundrum of the story. I told you there are two passengers wake here, but I never told you how or why they are awake. Jim’s was due to a mechanical failure, but Aurora’s fate was caused by something much worse. Words such as selfishness, lies and deceit come to my mind when thinking about why Aurora is really awake here. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO LOOK AWAY BEFORE I VENTURE INTO INEVITABLE SPOILERS. She was AWOKEN! GASP!!! Even worse it was by her unsusceptible lover, Jim. How could he?
Now before you cast judgment, what would you do if you were in Jim’s shoes? If you remember, it was just two years ago when Interstellar tackled a very similar conundrum. So this is where many people, reviewers and moviegoers alike, criticize the ethics of Passengers. Of course Jim did it for companionship and romance, but what a creepy and manipulating way to do it, huh? All of this is deliberately and smartly hid in the film’s trailers to showcase this film as an enjoyable tale of sci-fi action and romance. However you think of it there’s no denying Passengers is actually a tale of captivity where the captured becomes lovers with the capture. Fret not though as there is a silver lining in all of this. Had Jim not have woken up Aurora not only would she have certainly perished, but all of the ships inhabitants too. How’s that for completely twisted? Jim’s actions in a way are actually kind of justified. Would I have done the same? LOL. Probably. I just would have sought out someone a little easier on the eyes though. Sorry I’m not a big Lawrence fan.
Besides the controversial plot I tackled up above there are other problems with Passengers like its slow pacing that many found boring and sole action sequence saved for the very end. All in all it’s really just an average movie rather than the sci-fi spectacle everyone was fooled into thinking it would be. However, since I was familiar with the source material before going in I got exactly what I expected to. I love science fiction movies like this and the twisted morality of it all made it even more satisfying for me. What can I say? LOL. Maybe I’m a creep. Hey! Isn’t that a Radiohead or Stone Temple Pilots song?
The below video score and related critique of things here are based upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Passengers as well as the 1080p Blu-ray. I guess it kind of goes without saying, but it should be noted that in addition to the feature in HD on the 1080p Blu-ray disc Sony also graciously includes the 3D Blu-ray disc too in this package. Score!
- Encoding: HEVC / H.265
- Resolution: 4K (2160p)
- Aspect Ratio:2.39:1
- Clarity/Detail: Well Sony has certainly been delivering as of late on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format and this presentation is no exception to their recent successes. Objects, human beings and even celestial galaxies are crystal clear. Everything from stubbles, pores and follicles to textures in surroundings, clothing, etc. are brilliantly on display for all to behold and bask in their glory. Seriously, there’s nothing I can nitpick about here. Every little detail just like a stray star in the night sky is accounted for here.
- Depth: Because of the vast, bleak cruise ship so to speak on display here this one begs to be taken seriously in the three-dimensional pop category. Sure the 3D presentation makes the ship look like it goes on forever with extra depth to hallways, objects, etc., but the 4K UHD presentation never looks flat either. From the grand course on the Avalon to the sterile breakfast hall the depth of field is limitless here just like space.
- Black Levels: The black levels are gorgeously deep, inky and natural throughout. Thanks in part to the HDR nothing ever gets lost in any shadows here despite the infinite darkness of space. You have to love it! Hell yeah!
- Color Reproduction: Here’s where this one really excels as the colors of Passengers is infinitely endless just like the depth of field, but even better because they’re bold, bright and beautiful. Despite the rich colors nothing ever looks too artificial. It just all feels like home to me.
- Flesh Tones: The temperatures of the skin tones are all natural and authentic throughout.
- Noise/Artifacts: There’s absolutely nothing to nitpick here within the 4K Ultra HD presentation. While there are a few jaggies to be seen by the naked eye in the 1080p source, it’s nothing that will really distract you from sheer enjoyment of Passenger‘s endless beauty.
Unlike what I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Passengers. Sony skimped in the audio department here on the 1080p presentations. Oh no! The 4K UHD disc houses a reference, out of this world Dolby Atmos surround track while the regular 1080p Blu-ray and the 3D version only come armed with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio one.
- Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), English Audio Description Track, French (Quebec) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Italian, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish (Castlian), Spanish (Latin American), Thai, Vietnamese
- Dynamics: I don’t know where to start here. From the score, atmospheric effects and the rumble of the spaceship hurling through space to the directionality and rendering of environments the dynamics are all over the place. Thankfully nothing ever gets lost in the hustle and bustle of everything and that includes the dialog. It feels like you are on this space cruise ship enjoying the serenity of it all one quiet moment and diffusing fires the very next. I didn’t rate the audio a score of 5 for nothing.
- Height: It may be very subtle at times and not the best use of Dolby Atmos out there to demo your system with, but the height channels fill itself with score, spatial effects and unmistakably makes itself known in times like loss of gravity, robots falling from the sky, etc.
- Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel implodes with ferocity throughout here. Sometimes it gets near the point of being rattly, but when you’re a vessel carrying over 5,000 people through space you need that sense of heftiness in your LFE presentation. Don’t you think? Hell yeah you do! The bass gets to bombastic levels when meteors bounce off and even pulverize/punish the Avalon starship as its hurling through space like nobody’s business. The score also has a lot of bottom end to it too so needless to say the LFE is engaged throughout even in times of no action. You gotta love that!
- Surround Sound Presentation: From atmospheric effects, score and ambiance to meteors slamming by, flames swirling around and intense moments of peril the rear speakers are constantly engaged. Yes there’s a lot of slow moments throughout here, but I want to remind you that the rears never stop working as they engulf you in the middle of the sci-fi atmosphere I love so much about Passengers.
- Dialogue Reproduction: Dialog levels are always clear, intelligible and prioritized throughout. No complaints here!
Passengers arrives on 4K Ultra HD courtesy of Sony packaged along with the feature film in both 1080p HD Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray. Like the Ghostbusters (2016) release last year Sony doesn’t aim to hurt your wallet by making you double dip in case you wanted the 3D version of the film too. That’s great for all us Passengers fans. It also makes the black Ultra HD case thicker too just like the ghostbustin’ release last year. So nonetheless down below you’ll find all the supplemental features housed solely on the 1080p Blu-ray disc, but I also didn’t want you to forget about the redeemable UltraViolet code for the Digital HD version of the film. In addition there’s also a short first look at the Passengers Awakening Virtual Reality Experience. Now let’s cover the rest of these extras below in more detail under the microscope before we blast off in conclusion of this review..
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 9:49) – Here we have the following 8 deleted scenes to take in (available via a Play All functionality too): No New Drinks, Memory Maker, Tacos and Cocktails, Kiss in the Photo Booth, Aurora Finds Jim’s Photos, Drunk Dial, Gus Reveals His Past and Gus Looks For A Solution.
- Space on Screen: The Visual Effects of Passengers (HD, 7:26) – This featurette is all about the inviting and inspiring visual world that’s created and on display for all to see. The LED panels surrounding the characters gives the illusion of flying through space. Pretty rad! Even watching these lights revolve in the extras here makes you feel dizzy of vertigo. I love it! We also “deep dive” into how the zero gravity pool scene was made too.
- Outtakes from the Set (HD, 4:23) – This is basically your everyday run of the mill reel of gags, flubbed lines and actors fooling around here. Makes me wish I had a fun job like the actors here. Pratt just looks like he has so much fun in life. Ha ha.
- Casting the Passengers (HD, 10:39) – Pratt said he was never going to let anyone else play Jim after reading this script. The cast and crew sure all love Chris here. Everyone also chimes in about the actors’ incredible performances here and their respective character’s motivations. This one really goes deeper in my opinion than just the casting as we cover all four of the major faces involved here. I loved seeing the green tights Michael Sheen wears as Arthur the android bartender. It’s also interesting to figure out that the character of Gus is probably 500-600 years old. I love it!
- Creating The Avalon (HD, 9:35) – This one is all about the cruise ship as I call or the Titanic in space. We talk with the art designers and their inspiration in creating this beautiful sci-fi sets. I love how they discuss the challenges of creating the ultimate suite (the Vienna suite) in space.
- On The Set With Chris Pratt (HD, 4:19) – This one is all about…you guessed…Chris Pratt! J Law says he is the hardest working person in life. Wow! She hasn’t met me before then. Ha ha. However, for the most part you’ll notice Chris’ positive attitude leap into everyone he interacts with. Gotta love that! J Law even says Pratt is by far a better dancer than her, but sh’s better at basketball. Ha ha.
- Book Your Passage (HD, 4:40) – Looking for a new life? Learn more about the Homestead Company. See what awaits you with these four mock info commercials ranging from the hibernation pods themselves to the sheets on the bed: Choose Your Star, Dare to Dream, Elite Suites and A Flight To Remember. They are available as a play all function or individually.
Typically slap the word science fiction on a film and give me a hot dame to look at and I’ll call it a day. However, Passengers hits home on a personal note for me as I detailed in my first paragraph up above. I take fancy to it also because let’s be honest the Avalon Starship is really like being on one big, luxurious cruise ship. I love cruises so there’s that. It doesn’t hurt either that it just so happens to be another interstellar reference 4K audio and video presentation from Sony. They have been hitting homers on the UHD format consistently now. Check it out you will! Buy your ticket to Homestead II today. A better life is waiting for you. What do you have to lose?
DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here. Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.
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